There are a variety of options to consider when traveling from Accra to Cape Coast in Ghana. I have made the journey myself, and will share all of my best insights into making this trip. In addition to providing information on how to travel between these two cities, this guide will provide you with all the essential insights. This includes information on best time to travel, popular spots to visit, to the most engaging tours available. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a foodie, this trip promises a rich cultural experience.
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The History of Cape Coast
Cape Coast’s history is deeply intertwined with the rise and fall of colonial empires. The Portuguese initially established the city, naming it “Cabo Corso,” as a significant trade outpost in the 15th century. As other European powers sought to expand their influence in Africa, the city became a key battleground. The Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and British all made their mark on Cape Coast, each leaving a unique imprint on the city’s architecture and culture.
However, Cape Coast’s history is not solely defined by its colonial past. Prior to European arrival, the area was a significant part of the Fante Confederacy, a powerful coalition of states that held sway over much of modern-day Ghana. The city’s historical relevance is also intertwined with its tragic role in the transatlantic slave trade. The infamous Cape Coast Castle, originally built by the Swedes for the timber trade, was repurposed by the British into a major hub for the slave trade, forever marking the city with the legacy of this tragic period.
Cape Coast Today
In the present day, Cape Coast is an exciting blend of history, culture, and modernity, attracting visitors from around the globe. The city is the seat of the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly, and it is the capital of Ghana’s Central Region.
The city’s cultural significance is evident in its numerous annual festivals, such as Fetu Afahye, which display the rich traditions and vibrant artistry of the local people. Cape Coast is also a hub for eco-tourism, with attractions like Kakum National Park, home to diverse species of wildlife and a famous canopy walkway.
Cape Coast is also a center for education. It houses the University of Cape Coast (UCC), one of the prestigious universities in Ghana renowned for its programs in humanities, legal studies, and agriculture. Additionally, numerous regional and international schools offer a diverse educational environment, attracting students from across Africa and beyond.
In terms of infrastructure, Cape Coast is continually growing. New roads, buildings, and public spaces are being developed, all while preserving the city’s historic charm and natural beauty. With these advancements, Cape Coast continues to strike a remarkable balance between preserving its rich past and fostering future development.
Distance from Accra to Cape Coast
Cape Coast is approximately 165 kilometers or about 103 miles from Accra, the capital city of Ghana. This distance corresponds to roughly a two to three-hour drive, depending on the exact departure and arrival points as well as current traffic conditions. The two cities are primarily connected by the N1 highway, one of Ghana’s major roads, which offers a relatively smooth and straightforward route. The journey takes you through a variety of scenic landscapes, providing a glimpse into the country’s diverse environment and vibrant local life.
In addition, the calculated flying distance from Accra to Cape Coast is equal to 79 miles which is equal to 127 km.
5 Ways to Travel from Accra to Cape Coast
There are five key ways to travel from Accra to Cape Coast. You’ll see below that four of the various options involve travel by land, but there an option for flying there as well. Check out the details below for more information.
Take a Tour of Cape Coast from Accra
Taking a guided tour from Accra to Cape Coast is an excellent option for travelers who prefer a more structured and informative journey. Various tourism companies offer day trips or multi-day tours that cover not only the transportation but also a tour guide at the key attractions in Cape Coast.
These attractions often include the Cape Coast Castle, Kakum National Park, Assin Manso, and local craft villages. Tour guides provide insights into the history and cultural significance of each site, enriching the travel experience. Plus, the convenience of having transport and itinerary organized can make the tour option appealing for those who prefer hassle-free travel arrangements.
Here are two tour options that you may want to consider if this is your preferred method to travel to Cape Coast:
Explore the cultural heritage of Cape Coast by visiting the castles there on this round trip tour from Accra to Cape Coast. In addition to transportation to a variety of sites, you’ll get a private tour guide as well.
During this experience you will:
- Vist Cape Coast Castle
- Visit Elmina Castle
- Visit Kakum National Park
- Visit Has Cottage Botel
Admission to each of the sites, round trip fare from Accra to Cape Coast, as well as drinks and snacks are included in the price of the tour.
Learn about the history of the trans-atlantic slave trade and colonialism from the Ghanaian perspective. This tour comes complete with a private guide.
During this experience you will:
- Tour Kakum National Park
- Explore Elmina Castle
- Have Lunch at the Oasis Beach Resort in Cape Coast
- Experience Cape Coast Cast.e
In addition, the experience comes complete with hotel pickup and all entry fees!
Hiring a private driver is a convenient and comfortable way to travel from Accra to Cape Coast. This option provides a personalized journey tailored to your schedule and preferences. The driver, often knowledgeable about the route and local sites, can provide you with interesting information about the areas you pass through.
Furthermore, it allows for spontaneous stops at roadside attractions or eateries. While this option may be more expensive than public transport, it offers peace of mind, especially for those who prefer not to navigate Ghana’s roads themselves.
When I was last in Ghana, this is the way that I traveled between the two cities. It was great to be able to stop as we needed and have the flexibility to set our own schedule.
Trip Duration: 2-3 Hours
Trip Cost: Price will vary by company – you will need to negotiate. For reference, my party and I paid about $100/day for a driver that took us around in an 8-passenger van.
Fly to Cape Coast
Flying from Accra to Cape Coast is potentially the fastest, albeit most expensive, option for travel. A direct flight between the two cities typically takes about 30 to 40 minutes, ensuring a swift and convenient journey. The Kotoka International Airport in Accra and the Cape Coast Airport offer commercial flights that are operated by a number of local airlines.
These flights also provide an opportunity to enjoy an aerial view of Ghana’s diverse landscape. However, it’s crucial to note that flight schedules can be subject to change due to weather conditions, so always ensure to check the latest updates before planning your trip.
Trip Duration: 30 – 40 Minutes
Trip Cost: ~$150/pp
Rent a Car
Renting a car for the journey from Accra to Cape Coast can provide an excellent opportunity for independent exploration. Numerous car rental services are available in Accra, ranging from international chains to local agencies, and they offer a variety of vehicles to suit individual needs and budgets.
It’s essential, however, to ensure that you’re comfortable with driving in Ghana, as road conditions and driving practices can differ significantly from those in other countries. The roads themselves are not always paved and I found them to be QUITE bumpy at times. It’s also important to remember that in Ghana, driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
Also, always ensure that the rental vehicle has an up-to-date roadworthiness certificate, and the necessary insurance coverage before embarking on the drive.
Trip Duration: 2-3 hours
Trip Cost: Will vary by car rental price. You will need to factor in gas prices as well.
Taking the public bus from Accra to Cape Coast is an affordable and popular choice among both locals and tourists. Public buses, known as “trotros,” operate frequently between the two cities, departing from various bus terminals in Accra, including Kaneshie and Circle. The journey typically takes around 3 to 4 hours, depending on traffic conditions. (The proper name for these buses is the Intercity STC Coaches).
Trotros are by far the cheapest option, but it’s worth noting that they can be quite crowded and may not offer the same level of comfort as private transport options. Tickets can be purchased directly from the bus conductor on the day of travel, and it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a seat.
Trip Duration: 3-4 Hours
Trip Cost: ~$9
Travel Tips for Cape Coast
Visiting Cape Coast offers the opportunity to delve into Ghana’s rich historical past and experience its vibrant culture. Travelers should ensure they have adequate sun protection, stay hydrated, and respect local customs and traditions for an enriching and hassle-free visit.
Here are a few more things you should know when visiting Cape Coast:
Where to Stay in Cape Coast
Here are two of the best options to consider when visiting Cape Coast. Note, there are not very many hotels in Cape Coast itself, so the second option is in nearby Elmina.
Hotel recommendation #1
This resort features a garden, a lounge, a restaurant, and also, evening entertainment.
The rooms are clean and decorated in a modern fashion. The hotel also provides a daily continental breakfast as well.
It is a very easy drive from this hotel to the nearby castles on the coast, and the parking provided here is completely free, if you opt to drive.
Hotel recommendation #2
This resort is located in nearby Elmina, and offers all the amenities that you desire, but at a more affordable price than you’d find in Accra. In addition to a stay in a cute African villa, you’ll find a restaurant, bar, and pool.
When to Visit Cape Coast
The best time to visit Cape Coast largely depends on your personal preferences. The region experiences a tropical climate with two rainy seasons – from April to July and from September to November. If you prefer a cooler climate and lower tourist crowds, you may choose to visit during these months. However, the heavy rainfall might limit outdoor activities.
From December to March, Cape Coast experiences its dry season. This period is considered the peak tourist season due to the favorable weather, with average temperatures ranging between 24°C – 32°C (75°F – 90°F). During this time, all attractions are accessible, and various cultural festivals take place, offering a vibrant glimpse into the local traditions.
In terms of specific events, visiting in September will allow you to witness the Fetu Afahye festival, a significant celebration where locals cleanse their communities with a procession through the town. However, this period tends to be quite busy.
What to do in Cape Coast
Top Attractions in Cape Coast
There are several key attractions and historical sites in and around the Cape Coast area that you should visit while you are there:
CAPE COAST CASTLE
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its historical significance, served as one of the major departure points for Africans who were forcibly taken into a life of slavery. The haunting “Door of No Return” stands as a powerful symbol, reminding us of the profound human toll inflicted by the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Today, the castle stands as a solemn witness, housing a historical museum that educates visitors about the intricate and devastating history of this dark chapter in humanity’s past. It is THE most popular destination in Ghana, and is a must-visit if you are in the area.
As the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara, Elmina Castle also draws numerous tourists from all corners of the globe. With its imposing presence and rich heritage, it played a significant role alongside Cape Coast Castle during the era of the slave trade. Nowadays, visitors can partake in guided tours that offer profound and enlightening insights into the castle’s haunting past, unraveling the untold stories of those who lived within its walls centuries ago.
KAKUM NATIONAL PARK
For nature enthusiasts, a visit to Kakum National Park is an absolute must. This breathtaking tropical rainforest reserve is not only a haven for endangered species like the Diana monkey, but it is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including majestic elephants, graceful antelopes, and so much more.
One of the most captivating features of the park is its awe-inspiring canopy walkway, where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the forest from a unique perspective high above the ground.
Experience the bustling atmosphere of Cape Coast’s central market, where you can buy everything from fresh produce to traditional crafts. It’s a great place to understand local life and even pick up a souvenir or two.
FORT WILLIAM LIGHTHOSE
For a panoramic view of Cape Coast, climb to the top of the Fort William Lighthouse. Built in 1835, it’s an interesting piece of colonial architecture, and the view from the top is breathtaking.
Frequently Asked Questions about Travel from Accra to Cape Coast
You can get to Cape Coast, Ghana from Accra either by bus, private car, or train. The most common and convenient way is to take an intercity STC bus, which offers several trips daily. Alternatively, you can hire a private car or plane, but these options will be more expensive.
The journey from Accra to Cape Coast typically takes between 3 to 4 hours by bus, depending on traffic and the specific route taken. If you choose to travel by a private car or taxi, the duration might be slightly shorter. And if you choose to fly, the trip will be between 30 to 40 minutes. Please note that these times are estimates and can vary based on road conditions and other factors.
Top attractions in Cape Coast include the Cape Coast Castle, which offers a sobering insight into the region’s history of slave trading, as well as the vibrant Kotokoraba Market, ideal for sampling local African crafts and fresh produce. If you’re a nature lover, don’t miss the Kakum National Park, renowned for its verdant rainforest and famous canopy walkway.
Accra, the capital city of Ghana, is home to a variety of attractions that cater to different tastes. The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, dedicated to Ghana’s first president, offers a deep dive into the nation’s history, while lovers of art and culture will appreciate the National Museum of Ghana. For those who love shopping and want to experience the local hustle and bustle, the Makola Market is a must-visit.
My One-Week Ghana travel guide provides a typical itinerary with tips on planning your trip to Cape Coast, Accra, and around the country.
Accra to Cape Coast: How Will You Travel There?
I hope that you found this post helpful as you plan your trip from Accra to Cape Coast! From cars, to buses, to planes, you have a nice set of options to choose from for your method of transportation. Considerations such as cost and travel time should help you identify what is the best option for your personal needs.
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- Historical Sites in Ghana
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- How to Visit Assin Manso Slave River
- Is Ghana a Third World Country?
- Best Places to Visit in Accra
- The History of Elmina Castle
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- The Best Boutique Hotels in Accra